3 Ad Campaigns That Resonated With the Gen Z Audience

Gen Z is completely shifting the way advertisers work. The long-held mindset of heritage, comfort, and familiarity is being upset by this up-and-coming generation of digital natives. Gen Z approaches the world differently than previous generations, and their way of thinking is coming to the forefront of today’s society. Their passion for social justice, demand for authenticity, and short attention spans have forced brands that target Gen Z consumers to shift their advertising strategies accordingly.

3 Ad Campaigns GenZ

Today, brands are starting to get better at picking up on what Gen Z values and learning to adapt. From a company structure perspective, this can mean implementing more corporate social responsibility initiatives; while in advertising and marketing, this can mean deploying messages, media, and strategies designed to resonate with Gen Z consumers. There are a number of one-off ad campaigns that have redefined success with this generation, as well as continuous campaigns and brand behaviors that are molding and shaping the way marketers and advertisers target this audience.

Here are examples of three very different ad campaigns that have resonated with Gen Z in unique ways, and how they did it.

Aerie ‘Real’ Campaign

Historically, clothing brands have promoted themselves with bombshell supermodels who possess unattainable beauty. It may seem simple, but Gen Z is challenging that paradigm by calling for and responding to ad campaigns that feature “normal” people, and by rejecting impossible beauty standards.

In the early ’00s, brands began receiving backlash for digitally enhancing the faces and figures of their models in noticeable ways and removing anything that might be seen as an imperfection. Once it became clear that this imagery was harmful to the development of young girls’ self-esteem and confidence, American Eagle’s intimates brand Aerie decided to connect with its target consumer, Gen Z, with a different approach — body positivity.

In 2014, Aerie’s “Real” campaign was born. American Eagle started by announcing that it would not only cease the use of supermodels, but would also refrain from digital retouching. That campaign received a flurry of attention as the first-of-its-kind and was a big success. Since then, Aerie has continued to expand the parameters by which it chooses lingerie models. Campaigns have included women with curves, cellulite, small chests, large chests, disabilities, medical illnesses, stretch marks, body hair, and more. Furthermore, the “Real” campaign has expanded by including Aerie consumers. The brand encourages people to feel positive, confident, and comfortable in their own bodies and show it off by joining in with the hashtag #AerieReal on social media.

Not only has this approach helped Aerie stand out in the market and build a positive reputation with Gen Z, but it’s also increased sales year-over-year, with a 38% increase in Q1 of 2018, alone. Overall, the “Real” campaign enabled Aerie to earn credibility in authenticity, diversity, inclusion, and body positivity spaces. Aerie was also ahead of the curve, and many brands are now embracing body positivity and inclusion in their own branding.


Casper is a new age mattress company that has completely shaken up its sector. A traditionally brick and mortar industry, Casper took a direct-to-consumer approach to mattresses that appeals to a younger-skewing audience. Casper has succeeded with this business model by incorporating selling factors that are important to Gen Zers.

Before Casper, the idea of getting a bed-in-a-box was unheard of and viewed as impractical. Casper, however, had a deep understanding of its target audience and realized a DTC approach could be effective, if the brand positioned itself as a master in the mattress space. To that end, Casper deployed a robust content marketing campaign. The company leveraged social media and retargeting to garner attention and create brand awareness. Once its audience was engaged, Casper established itself as the expert in the space, using product comparisons, customer reviews, and influencer marketing to move the consumer down the funnel toward purchasing a mattress they had never even touched before.

In addition, Casper invested in building a sense of community around its brand. Campaigns like Staycation Story Hacks, unboxing videos, “Waffle Crush Wednesdays,” and the publication Winkle were all geared toward giving consumers many different ways to engage and interact with the brand, and with fellow brand customers. Together, Casper’s marketing efforts have brought in upward of 100,000 video views; 2,000 to 10,000 likes per post; and increased its valuation to $1.1 billion, in just five years.


Revolve, an e-commerce clothing brand geared toward Gen Z, has targeted and engaged these consumers, not with traditional advertising campaigns (like Aerie), but by putting its marketing dollars toward a large group of Instagram influencers — 3,500 of the most successful fashion influencers Instagram has to offer.

When influencer marketing really began to take off, Revolve saw an opportunity to grow its relatively new brand and build buzz. The company established an ongoing relationship with Instagram’s most popular fashion influencers, including Kendall Jenner, and began throwing #RevolveAroundtheWorld events in popular destinations, including Palm Springs, Turks and Caicos, and the ever-important Coachella — a super hub for influencers and Gen Zers, alike.

These lavish trips and events are invite-only and create a space where influencers can come together and do what they do best — advertise Revolve’s products by modeling the clothing and publicizing them all over their Instagram accounts. An event exclusively filled with popular Instagrammers effectively gets the brand name out there and capitalizes on the “wish you were here” mindset that Instagram seeds in its users. Consumers have their attention grabbed by the glamorous photos and then may feel inspired to buy the trendy clothing they see. They both relate to and aspire to be like their favorite influencers. Clearly, this approach is working, as Revolve was recently valued at $1.2 billion.

Final Thoughts on Gen Z Ad Campaigns

In today’s world, it is vital that brands— old and new, alike — continue to evolve in the ever-changing advertising landscape. Brands that target Gen Z have to shape their marketing and advertising strategies to convey authenticity, relatability, consistent engagement, and progressive social values. American Eagle’s Aerie, Casper, and Revolve have each taken a highly distinct and unique approach, and each has succeeded in its own way. There are lessons to be learned from their similarities, and their differences. There are many ways to craft campaigns that resonate with Gen Z, but they won’t look like campaigns of the past.

What’s The Value Of A Sports Sponsorship Or Integration? Too Often, Brands Have No Idea.

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. 

Today’s column is written by George Leon, chief strategy officer at Hawthorne. George Leon, Chief Strategy Officer

The fall is a huge time for sports. There’s the World Series, weekend football games, the beginning of the grueling NBA and NHL seasons and NASCAR winding to a close. Sports fans dedicate significant amounts of time to watching sports – on many different devices and channels – and brands are taking advantage of the many opportunities that affords.

Across the media landscape, inventory pricing is increasing but advertising budgets are not. As interest in sports sponsorships and integrations rise, agencies must find the right ways to evaluate these opportunities. Brands must apply the same path of attribution here as they do with their other advertising efforts.

The World Series is a high-profile event with major teams. Last year, it was the Dodgers and the Red Sox, two top five market teams. The series ended in five games, and advertisers were disappointed it didn’t go through the full seven because the campaigns did so well. This year, networks and advertisers continue to hope for a competitive World Series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals that continues through all seven games.

The Super Bowl, in contrast, is a singular cultural event that is difficult to measure from a KPI standpoint, but it is high in consideration in terms of interest, earned media and social mentions.

Over the past few years, the sports media universe has expanded dramatically. There are the mainstream networks, such as NBC, and cable networks, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, as well as an increase in conference-specific networks, including the Southeastern Conference Network, Big 10 Network and ACC Network. These networks open up sponsorship and integration opportunities that enable brands to deliver direct messages to particular regions and consumer segments. The evolution of these networks has added incremental opportunities for advertising and revenue, and brands of all sizes are taking note.

Whatever the network, attribution and accountability are key. For example, a big NASCAR sponsor will likely see a major increase in site traffic whenever there is a mention of its brand on TV during NASCAR races. This type of lucrative advertising avenue requires that it is measurable. It’s important to align sports sponsorships and integrations with results, such as branded impressions and ecommerce sales lifts.

There are several companies that look at the impression-level performance of sponsorships and integrations, but brands need to go beyond that and evaluate the value of particular campaigns. Often when sponsorship packages are offered by Fox Sports, NBC or ESPN, a big focus is on the creative element and the impressions for the events. However, there may not be any mechanism to measure the value of each element of a sponsorship or integration and their impact on brand metrics.

With attribution methodology, a very straight and clear correlation between when a brand’s logo appears and the impact on visits and acquisitions can be seen if rigorously measured.

Say a company buys branded signage at a televised event. The proposal is then evaluated based on the channel, the number of times the signage could be seen on screen and the mentions within that. It’s also considered if there is a different value depending on whether the logo is on the bottom of the screen, part of the background or part of the signage of the particular medium. If you look at any arena or hockey game, there are at least eight to 10 different brand logos. How frequently and for how long do those images appear onscreen? What is their prominence?

During the campaign, not only is the date and time in which the logos appear onscreen evaluated, but also the data and airtime of the advertising response. Brands should be able to understand how consumers react to these types of sponsorships and integration. How do they behave after seeing it? What’s the immediate or latent response?

We know they are not going to have the same audience delivery or measurements as a TV ad campaign, but often sponsorship and integration campaigns are seen only as a branded awareness configuration. Brands should also start considering them an acquisition and consumer response channel. It’s not just about the audience – it’s also about consumer engagement.

Now that sports season is in full swing, there’s no better time for brands to explore sports sponsorship and integration opportunities and how they can be evaluated for impact.

How emotionally fueled mass communication can affect advertising and brands

Advertisers are often tempted to use sensationalist mass communication to promote their brand, which isn’t a good idea

It can seem like the news cycle these days is filled with sensationalism and attention-grabbing headlines, putting brands in a challenging and potentially compromising position.

Brands invest in advertising to attract attention, get the word out, and raise awareness about their product. In today’s saturated digital media environment, this can be a challenge because consumers have so many demands on their attention. Brands, understandably, want to meet consumers where they are—or rather, where their attention is—and find ways to break through the noise. However, this impulse can lead to the siren song of sensationalism.

Whether through advertising on sites that traffic in clickbait or by attempting to capitalize on the momentum of viral internet hoaxes, advertisers are often tempted to use sensationalist mass communication to promote their brand. This strategy is short-sighted.

Participation or affiliation with this type of advertising ultimately has a negative effect on a brand and its reputation. Brands can gain more ground by investing in accountable, ethical advertising that will drive results over the long-term.


Sensationalist communication, which can sometimes be known as “Ragebait”- or content specifically designed to provoke strong emotions – is nothing new. In fact, it has a long history in American media through what used to be known as “yellow journalism.”

Yellow journalism emphasizes sensationalism over facts. It first emerged at the end of the 19th century when competition between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, and their respective newspapers, was fierce, with each paper duking it out for the public’s attention. The publishers realized that exaggerating stories to make them more dramatic meant they could sell more papers.

However, the consequences of this approach became clear with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. The newspapers had closely covered the Cuban struggle for independence and fanned the flames of the conflict, and while they didn’t cause the war, they played a central role in ginning up public interest and support.

Spanish-American War Coverage

Certainly, media and journalistic standards have evolved since then, but the internet is a breeding ground for sensationalist content. The internet enables anyone to be a publisher, promotes the rapid flow of information (with no gatekeepers), and floods people with so much content that headlines really have to be eye-catching to get clicks.

In the era of social media, more and more headlines use provocative messaging and promise stories that are “shocking” to attract attention. Other tactics include phrases like “one simple trick” or “what they’re not telling you.” The more people click on these headlines, the more people see the ads that are served there, and so the cycle continues.


Today, this type of content can be divided into a couple of different categories. One category is hoaxes, like the Momo challenge or Tide Pods. As explained by Vox, an image of a “devilish bird-lady” named Momo somehow became a global panic about a dangerous “suicide game” that targeted children on social media. Parents were terrified that Momo would goad their children into violence while they used WhatsApp, watched YouTube videos, or played video games. But there was no evidence that the Momo challenge ever led to any violence—it was an “overblown internet hoax,” just like the idea that teenagers were ingesting Tide Pods or snorting condoms.

Momo Challenge

Satire, conspiracy, and “health” news

The internet can be an incredible resource to find information about current events, history, health, and more. It’s also a place where misinformation thrives, and it’s not always clear what is true and what is not. The internet makes it possible for people to find information that supports whatever they already believe, which fuels conspiracy theories. Anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, and “birther” conspiracists are able to connect and share online and reinforce one another. This, in turn, leads people who don’t believe the conspiracy to try and correct the record. Each side infuriates the other. People may be mad, but they are engaged, which is what advertisers want.

Moreover, it can be tricky to discern online between what is satire and what isn’t. Sarcasm and nuance aren’t easy to pick up and people take things literally. Furthermore, many people aren’t educated on how to identify whether media sites, sets of facts, or scientific studies are truthful and valid. Content makers can take advantage of this ignorance to promote conspiracy theories and make money. One of the most notorious conspiracy mongers out there, Alex Jones of InfoWars, uses crazy ideas to shill products like nutritional supplements and survivalist gear.

Deep fakes

The lines between what is real and what is not are only going to blur further, thanks to technology that enables “deep fakes.” A deep fake is a “computer-generated replication of a person, saying or doing things they have never said or done,” as defined by The Guardian.

From celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence accepting an award to President Trump advising the Belgians on climate change, technology can make it impossible to decipher whether a thing actually happened or not. As deep fakes become more sophisticated, it will be even more important for consumers to rely on trusted platforms to parse what’s real and what’s not, and even more important for brands to focus their advertising in places not linked to falsehoods and deception.

Deep Fakes

The good (the bad, the ugly)

Certainly not all content that is designed for clicks is nefarious. Unorthodox food preparations and recipes tend to attract a lot of attention: Videos of people throwing pieces of Kraft cheese onto babies’ faces, or a bizarre-looking pot of “queso” have generated huge reactions. There are also positive challenges, like the ALS ice bucket challenge, which raised millions of dollars for disease research.

The internet has been around long enough at this point that sensationalist, viral content is not that hard to engineer. It’s a cheap laugh, and brands have to seriously question whether it’s valuable or ethical to engage with it.

While advertising alongside rage bait may garner eyeballs in the short term, it can also cause long-term reputational damage. There’s been a concerted effort from groups like Sleeping Giants to get brands to remove ads from platforms and shows that peddle in sensationalism and fear-mongering, like Breitbart and the Ingraham Angle.

Brands whose ads are associated with or run alongside deceptive or harmful content now get called out and held responsible, so companies have to weigh the value of reaching certain sets of customers with the need to preserve the dignity and positivity of their reputation. Either way, they may lose customers, so it has to be a question of ethics, integrity, and accountability.

Brands also have to make sure they know where all their ads are placed, which in a time of real-time bidding and programmatic advertising, is not always easy to keep a handle on. Brands should be very aware of where their digital advertisements get placed and where they are getting shared, perhaps through the use of a Digital Asset Management platform.

Staying on top of negative communication trends is key to a brand. By using a proprietary suite of social listening tools to analyze sentiment around the brands they represent, agencies can make their clients aware of these negative trends and how it may be impacting their customers. This can quickly affect messaging across all channels and placement that will quickly help brands navigate this negative ecosystem.

Final thoughts

In summary, effective advertising is about much more than how many people see an ad. It’s about building a brand’s reputation and developing a strategy that is sustainable in a constantly evolving landscape. There are new internet fads every day, and while they may attract attention in the moment, the next day will bring something new.

Trying to capitalize on this ephemeral, and often harmful, momentum is a losing strategy. Instead, brands should aim to optimize ROI by advertising in a way that is true to their vision and that doesn’t rely on the crutch of sensational or emotionally fueled communication to have an impact.


John Francis is Sr. Director of Digital Strategy at Hawthorne and responsible for creating digital advertising experiences for Hawthorne’s clients that emphasize conversions. He has a penchant for analyzing qualitative social and UX data in order to achieve the highest ROI for clients like BLACK+DECKER, Dexcom, Dyson, Gemmy, LeafFilter and Sengled among just a few. Understanding how people interact with information design is John’s passion. Prior to Hawthorne, John was the dean of the Keller Graduate School of Management/Information Sciences. For the 12 previous years he taught “Interactive Design, Usability, Marketing and Branding” at The Art Institute of California. Before his teaching adventures, he was the director of partner marketing with VERIO/NTT. Prior to his time with VERIO/NTT, John was Webmaster at America Online, where his team spearheaded the creation and launch of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and strategically marketing the AIM software package, resulting in over 400M installations of the chat application.

Building housewares brands with brand response TV

Growing Unicorns with DRTV

It is time for marketers to take advantage of the DRTV expansion to solve some of their biggest advertising pain points.

Karla Crawford Kerr on September 26, 2019 at 9:51 am

Housewares and brand response television have a long and robust shared history. Over 30 years ago, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) deregulated television air time allowing different time formats of commercial air time to be purchased. This paved the way for the live shopping channels as we know them today, showcasing many housewares products. It also opened up the airwaves to longer formats like 30-minute infomercials. Braun and Black+Decker were among the first major housewares retail brands to embrace the format, an early example of direct response television (DRTV), in which consumers are encouraged to buy directly from advertisements.

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, longer format advertising represented about 75% of the DRTV landscape and today the industry is worth over $200 billionPopular housewares DRTV advertisers achieved an almost cult-like status by using a variety of lengths including from 30 seconds to a half hour and live shopping to promote products like the George Foreman Grill, OxiClean, ShamWow and of course, the Snuggie. However, it is brands like Conair, Cuisinart, Dollar Shave, KitchenAid, Pfizer, Shark, Wahl Clipper Corporation and WORX that have paved the way for advertising that utilizes both branding and response mechanisms or brand response advertising.

As television and media consumption habits have evolved, along with advertising and marketing technology, so has DRTV, paving the way for the next generation of brand response TV. The role of DRTV is expanding in the brand marketing world and the next generation of DRTV has opened up powerful opportunities for housewares brands seeking accountability and faster campaign ROI. As the role of DRTV expands in the brand marketing world, it is time for marketers to take advantage of that expansion to solve some of their biggest advertising pain points.

In today’s competitive media landscape, brand advertisers struggle more than ever before to earn market share using traditional approaches due to factors like cost and fragmentation. Targeting consumers and B2B customers is getting extremely difficult. Put simply, it’s hard to stand out in an environment where people are bombarded by brand messages all day, on all sides. Social media may be widely used, but it also gives brands a split second to make an impression. What marketers need is a canvas that tells a story in an attention-getting medium, which is why they are turning to brand response TV (BRTV) and connected TV with the traditional bag of tricks like retargeting.

Brand response advertising increases brand awareness, improves brand perception and drives engagement. It is highly accountable, measurable, and delivers real ROI. It features customized, relevant content and works in conjunction with other types of media and channels. The brand response paradigm leverages a strong data component and can empower brands to make better decisions around media buys, messaging, and their overall campaigns. Marketers can analyze real-time performance statistics and test strategies in an ongoing way. BRTV is also more affordable and efficient than general advertising.

Despite these major benefits, many brand marketers are reluctant to invest in brand response TV due to concerns that people aren’t watching. Certainly video content is evolving, but that doesn’t mean TV is dead.

In an October 2018 study, the Consumer Technology Association surveyed 2,000 US adults about their content consumption habits. The survey yielded four main segments: Traditionalists, Value-Conscious Streamers, Device-Diverse Viewers and Experience Seekers. Traditionalists (29%) haven’t tried new technology and are less likely to stream or binge-watch; Value-Conscious Streams (41%) are more likely to use streaming services than cable and prioritize saving money; Device-Diverse Viewers (13%) watch a lot of video content from many sources on many devices; Experience Seekers (17%) prioritize an optimal viewing experience, and are willing to spend on technology and content to get that experience.

Across all these personas, one thing is clear – TV remains the top device for viewing content and cable/satellite remains the top source for content. TV is highly relevant and a long way from becoming obsolete. Housewares brands that invest in brand response TV can get serious bang for their buck.

Housewares brands are particularly suited to brand response advertising for a number of reasons. One is the power of demonstration. Brands can show their products in action and demonstrate how they will improve people’s lives in a way that is impactful and enticing. Consider Dyson, Keurig, Leesa, Rust-Oleum and T-Mobile. Viewers can immediately see how these products address a clear pain point and offer better ease and convenience than whatever they’re currently doing.

Housewares tend to be fairly intimate since they are products people use in their homes, so creating an emotional connection with viewers is key. This is why so many of the stars of DRTV are “everyman” or “everywoman” types who viewers feel comfortable with, recognize, and trust.  Housewares brands using brand response have a natural, high-focus on their relationship with consumers. The shift from brick and mortar to e-commerce has been beneficial to brands as they engage directly with the consumer via Amazon FBM (fulfillment by merchant), as well as interactions with consumers that share their housewares experience online.

Further, using brand response for housewares creates more room to deploy creative strategies, as suggested by Dash, Sobro and Wahl Clipper Corporation executives at the aforementioned building housewares brands seminar. For example, Catherine-Gail Reinhard, vice president, product strategy & marketing for Dash and Sobro shared that she often creates recipes and/or develops cookbooks that complement a food-related houseware. At the same seminar, Steven Yde, Vice President Marketing NAC division, said that offering guides from in-house barbers helps build value and ensures greater product satisfaction.

Direct response advertising has come a long way from the days of Ron Popeil’s first TV commercials for Ronco’s housewares gadgets like the Ronco Spray Gun, the Chop-O-Matic and the Veg-O-Matic, but clearly many aspects have remained the same.  In 2019 and beyond, brand response TV is a highly effective and cost-efficient approach for any housewares brand that wants to strategically grow and have a meaningful impact.

Private Equity firms and Branding: 7 reasons why it makes for better ROI

Anant Deboor

By Anant Deboor, Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Hawthorne

Original Publication: Medium

Date of Publication: February 7, 2019

‘We are a private equity firm — I am not sure why we need to invest in branding and marketing. Our business is face-to-face, we know our clients.’Anant Deboor

Something that we often hear of as brand and marketing consultants. On the other hand, research from a 2014 survey by financial services firm, BackBay Communications, among 290 PE partners, agents, lawyers and i-bankers, 98% said it was important. Where’s the truth in this post-truth world? Or perhaps more accurately, which is the more justifiable opinion?

Private equity: a young, maturing industry with an ancient history

PE has always been around, it just hasn’t been called that until modern times.

If you went back to the 15th Century, it would have been a husband-wife venture capitalist team in Spain by the names of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who provided seed funding for a chap called Christopher Columbus hoping to find a new route to India. Señor Columbus first made presentations to the King of Portugal, who turned him down after consulting with his advisory team. Over the years, the King and Queen put up more expansion capital as they started seeing some returns — and then convinced investors from other parts of Europe to jump into Project America.

Fast forward to the 1960s-80s, when we witnessed explosive growth among PE firms. From Silicon Valley start-ups funded by venture capitalists through to the infamous leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco by Henry Kravis and Jerome Kohlberg, Jr — PE firms started acquiring their cavalier (and sometimes dark) reputation, immortalised in pop culture with the book and film “Barbarian at the Gates”.

From small to big: contrasting worlds, bigger challenges

PE firms are generally slotted in somewhere along a scale of size: from small to very, very large. At the smaller end of the spectrum, you typically have the largely self-funded VC firms. The culture tends to be more chaotic — and often driven by a belief in an idea. As most of the firms here are self-funded, the deals they look for are based often based around personal beliefs, capabilities and vision. To the extreme right however, you have the behemoths such as KKR and Blackstone, that look and feel premium corporate. It is the world of big business, huge numbers, management power and aggressive ambitions.

Beyond deal-making: the emergence importance of brand and reputation

While the ability to spot winners, negotiation skills, financial nous and an innate aggression have always been central to the success of PE firms, in today’s market, they can no longer rely on that deal-making prowess alone. In a post-2008 tighter regulatory and more suspicious climate, with the general drying up of easy capital, an increasing number of PE firms — particularly the small and mid-market ones — need to make every deal count. In the cut-throat world of PE, the deal-making — and oftentimes the unsavoury fallout — ends up damaging reputations for the long-term. Just Google the PE fight over the super luxury hospitality brand Aman Resorts, and the impact it had on the Aman brand.

Here are seven lessons in the long-term importance of the brand that PE firms are realising today, lessons that firms such as Deloitte, McKinsey and PWC, and law firms such as Allen & Overy, Linklaters, Clifford Chance and others have realised over the last decades. An importance that is leading to greater ROI on every deal that is at the heart of the PE business.

  1. Cascading trust: A stronger brand at the heart of the PE business means an ecosystem of greater trust and confidence — and the cascading benefits. Brands are also hugely valuable during times of underperformance, and when working with regulatory bodies. While basic honesty and integrity in deal-making are essential in the VC space, this becomes mission critical as you move to the right of the spectrum above.
  2. Stronger deal results: For the small and mid-market firms, their PE brand is critical in an external downstream context. This could mean more proprietary deal flow, with fewer auctions. It will mean more calls returned, easier negotiation on term sheets and big insurance against ending up competing on price.
  3. Efficiencies in attracting the right opportunities: Creating a reputation for a sector expertise, or sustainability, automatically separates you from other firms by attracting the right kind of investment opportunities. For example, Impact Investing has become such an important arena that The Economist estimates it will take an additional $2.5trillion of private investment per year to really tackle the issues of climate change.
  4. Insurance against financial crises: For the mega firms such as KKR and Blackstone, corporate reputation matters more than ever before. The WPP BrandZ Portfolio of Strong Brands outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of 2 between Apr 2006 and April 2013. Companies that invested in their brand showed smaller drops during the financial crisis, and rebounded faster and higher after.
  5. Winning the war for expertise: Most importantly, a strong brand helps in the talent marketplace. A survey by Deloitte once estimated that a 1% drop in talent attrition led to an annual savings of over US$400mn. Toward the right of the spectrum, companies like KKR and Blackstone face fierce competition to hold on to their star fund managers and to continuously attract the best talent.
  6. The power of the halo effect: The Aman Resorts case is a classic lesson in how not to handle PE deal-making. The impact on the Aman brand is still reverberating, five years on. The stronger your PE brand and reputation, the stronger the halo — both on sources of capital as well on your investment properties. A strong PE brand has a direct impact on the valuation of the very companies it has stakes in — resulting in greater returns.
  7. Access, access access: A strong PE brand with a sharply defined purpose will open gateways to far more deals of the right kind rather than the ‘spray-n-pray’ approach that many adopt through endless networking events and seminars. Access to sectors, geographies, people and deals happen because your reputation precedes you.PE firms need to translate intent into meaningful action to define and develop their brands and marketing propositions. Being able to articulate a central idea and brand vision and making that work nicely for the business is quite simply a measure of sophistication of the firm — and will stand it in good stead.

Anant Deboor is a specialist in brand architecture/consulting and the Regional MD (APAC) of Hawthorne, a US-based, ROI-led performance marketing agency.

12 Ways To Encourage More Diversity In The Agency World

Encourage more Diversity in the Agency World

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: August 12, 2018

There’s been a lot of industry talk recently around diversity and inclusion. And rightfully so: Having a diverse team is important for many reasons, including the ability to envision, discuss and brainstorm ideas or campaigns from many different perspectives. But there’s more work that needs to be done to balance out the playing field.
We asked members of the Forbes Agency Council for their best hiring tips for a diverse workforce. Their best answers are below:

Encourage more Diversity in the Agency World

1. Tap Your Higher Consciousness

By opening your mind, you open the door to greater possibilities and results. In order for a business to grow, it must capture more people, and that means an audience that includes as many people as possible. If you want to appeal to that mass audience, then it is imperative to hire people that have different perspectives, which means diversity, so that they may collectively appeal to that much larger and diverse audience. Diversity means greater results, happier clients and bigger profits. It also sends a message to the industry as they see you rise to the top. – Keith Herman, IPA Equities/PMBC Group

2. Go Global With A Distributed Team

The best way I’ve found to create diversity is to hire globally and build a distributed team. Even small agencies can improve diversity by hiring talent from places we generally overlook. Having a global team with a wide range of perspectives creates better outcomes for all of our clients. – Kj Prince, Insurance Engine

3. Focus On The Person, Not The Resume

Understand that a resume will not necessarily provide that information. To gain a more eccentric and diverse workplace requires you to learn more about the person’s life experiences and not just skills as they may be beneficial to the company. – Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC

4. Utilize Other Languages In Your Websites And Social Media

With the growing Hispanic population, if a business isn’t utilizing Spanish, they are missing out on a lot of business, and by seeking Spanish speakers you are bound to attract them. Therefore, not only will this allow you to target an under-marketed population but it will also encourage the diversity of different races and cultures. – Imran Tariq, WebMetrix Group LLC

5. Reword Your Job Description

“Diversity hiring” entails hiring based on merit regardless of background. If you’re noticing a lack of diversity at your workplace, it may be worth revisiting your hiring process. I’d start by looking over the job posting and analyzing its verbiage to ensure that it’s culturally appropriate and not culturally biased. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

6. Define What ‘Good’ Looks Like

Establishing hiring criteria standards and promotion practices eliminates pay inequality or biased hiring decisions. At our agency, we established a career level system for our employees to ensure people grow, are promoted and paid equally, and hired based on consistent measurements. Once you define what “good” looks like, diversity isn’t something you consciously do, it just organically happens. – Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

7. Check Job Descriptions And Website For Accessibility

Diversity and inclusion needs to be a priority for every organization, and it isn’t something that can just be thrown together. However, one practical tip is to have the HR team do a thorough audit of all job descriptions and website accessibility. Is there something in either of those pieces that make people self-select out of the candidate process? Everything from blind applicants to requiring bachelor’s degrees when that might not be necessary to do the job well should be analyzed. – Alyshia Kisor-Madlem, STATWAX

8. Pay Attention To Age Diversity

In this business, approaching 40 feels like you begin to “age out.” Hire encore career seekers who bring real experience and diverse perspectives. Collaborative teams with millennials, Gen Xers and boomers foster respect, understanding and learning. Our multigenerational staff is our best asset, grounding us from biases that are easily forgetten or overlooked. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing + Partnerships

9. Lead By Example

Agencies may post policies and offer diversity training, but the reality that employees live with day-to-day is set by the actions of the executive leadership. Attitudes and language used by a CEO to the leadership team set the tone for how they engage with their teams. Executives who set a good example with their leadership team can trigger a positive ripple effect across the organization. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

10. Be Aware Of Your Implicit Biases

Work on identifying and then filtering out quick judgments that aren’t merit-based when reviewing resumes or interviewing candidates. These could include judgments on where a candidate’s from, where they went to school, or even if they worked with someone or at a previous agency with which you had a negative experience. – Larry Gurreri, Sosemo LLC

11. Attain Diversity By Design

Think “diversity by design.” Every step of both the hiring and even post-hiring process (such as performance reviews) should have diversity top of mind. For example, interview panels should include a diverse set of interviewers to ensure that hiring decisions are not homogenous. For reviews, managers should be trained on subconscious bias to ensure again that there is diversity in action. – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad

12. Embrace All Forms Of Diversity

Diversity and inclusion are critical to a well-balanced culture in today’s workforce to ensure a company stays in touch with the rapidly changing environment. I would encourage employers to not just look at diversity from a gender or racial demographic but also from different angles including age and place of origin. In my company, we have employees across genders, nationalities and all five current working generations, and we’ve found that it leads to critical thinking, unique perspectives, creativity and ingenuity. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, hawthornedirect.com

If You Want To Humanize Your Brand On Social Media, Try These 10 Tactics

Forbes Agency Council

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: June 3, 2018

The reason channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are so successful is because they encourage two-way conversations with customers. If you want those conversations to be successful and ultimately lead to conversions, you have to remember that people want to talk to other people, not faceless businesses. That’s why it’s in your brand’s best interest to show your human side in social media interactions and posts.

We asked a panel of experts from the Forbes Agency Council how to humanize a brand on social media. Their best answers are below.

Forbes Agency Council

1. Strike The Right Balance Between Personality And Professionalism 

Be real. Show yourself in your “personal” element while out on the job, giving back to the community, traveling and working with friends. But always remember to be appropriate because things will live online forever. It’s important to strike the right balance. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castrohawthornedirect.com

2. Show Some Character 

Brands often fail to captivate their audiences when they try to play things too safe. Don’t be afraid to show some humor at appropriate times or take a stance on some relevant issues. While there are always lines you shouldn’t cross, keeping things too sterile and not showing a personality doesn’t help you connect with consumers. – Greg Kihlstrom, Yes& Agency

3. Be Consistently Unique 

Every person has a unique voice and character that contributes to their overall personality – this is true for brands, as well. A consistent brand voice can do a lot to support the image you want your brand to portray. Not to mention, it can have a positive impact on the kinds of conversations you are having with your audience, making them feel like they are talking to a friend, not just a brand. – Alannah Tsimis Sandehl, IDM Brand

4. Be True To The Voice And Tone Of Your Brand 

The key to humanizing a brand on social media channels is authenticity and consistency. Staying true to brand voice while communicating with your audience honestly and openly is paramount. Audiences don’t want to see their favorite sneaker brand posting boring, sales-heavy content, just as they don’t want their bank posting cat memes. – David Harrison, EVINS

5. Define Your Brand’s ‘Personality’ 

Humanizing your brand on any digital asset is giving life to your brand. First, you should decide its personality. What kinds of things would your brand do, eat or listen to if it were human? Where does it hang out? Who are its BFFs? Where would I see your brand on the weekend? At a concert? In the mall? Let your brand “date” its followers. That means real interaction, all the time. – Jennifer Barbee, Destination Innovate

6. Go Behind The Scenes 

Your followers want a window into your brand. That is why they follow you. They want to see the culture of your company, people and what your day-to-day looks like. Make sure to mix professional or staged images with lifestyle shots and a look behind the scenes. If you have a set theme or look for your Instagram page, then utilize the Story feature to give your followers a true look at your company culture. – Meredith Xavier, The Ligne Group

7. Embrace Storytelling 

“Storytelling” is such a buzzword this year. Brands are getting smarter about humanizing messages across all content, whether it’s posted on their own site or on a social media channel. This is a trend to really embrace on social media. Tell your followers a story – something to which they can relate. – Matt Bowman, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency

8. Show Off Your Team 

Strong brands attach loyalty not just to their products or work, but also to their teams. Your audience is interested in more than your work and thought leadership pieces – they also want to know about the people behind the brand. Behind-the-scenes videos, birthday celebrations, fun outings and team bonding activities are all great ways to show off your culture and connect with your audience. – Nicole Mahoney, Break the Ice Media

9. Have Real Humans Respond To Customers’ Posts 

A simple “Thank you!” for a positive comment will go a long way. More detailed responses to actual questions or complaints will be even more successful. For brands that are really concerned about how they’re perceived by consumers, invest in a team of humans who understand your brand ethos, products and services to manage social pages. – Jeffrey Kamikow, Cross Audience

10. Stop Posting Like A Marketer 

Avoid using industry slang, formal sentences and third-party language. Social media is all about creating dialogue and building relationships. Create posts that are conversational in nature and use “you” and “me” phrases. Act like you are talking with your neighbor and post content in a way the creates that environment. Be human. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions

Brand Lift: Why TV Ads Are Key to Marketing Houseware and Hardware Products

Remote Control

Author: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO

Original Publication: ERA Blog

Date Published: April 5, 2018

Remote Control

Retail product marketers have straightforward goals: attract new customers, increase product sales and improve the brand’s awareness to drive recurring sales for their product or group of products. However, this is a challenging task in the current, tumultuous retail environment combined with a fragmented media environment. Many institutions that built and supported U.S. commerce for decades, like Sears, Macy’s and Toys “R” Us, have had to shut down a significant number of their locations or, in the case of Toys “R” Us, experienced full bankruptcy liquidation. As a result, new media options have pushed marketers to reinvent themselves to keep up with the demands and shopping considerations of today’s retail customer.

We all know that brick-and-mortar retail has been transitioning towards digital executions over the past decade, while companies like Amazon and Walmart are paving the way in e-commerce. The lines separating traditional from online retail are disappearing. But marketers, don’t lose hope, there is still a proven marketing approach for driving retail sales with the right, carefully planned advertising campaign that guarantees ROI.

Advertising is different from what it was a decade or two ago. That said, offline and television advertising still remain key mediums that can build product awareness, engage consumers and sell products to targeted audiences, while also generating “brand lift” (an increase in audience or customer perceptions as a result of an advertising campaign) across the board. And whether we want to admit it or not, having a product appear in the intimacy of consumers’ living room so the large screen TV still makes a strong, positive impression that the brand is thriving and should be a part of their lives.

Savvy marketers today understand the importance of looking beyond sales lifts for individual products and toward increasing positive perceptions for an entire product line. Brand lift is a measure of “stickiness,” and this kind of big-picture approach can help marketers gain better awareness of campaign ROI and can support better decision-making. Brand lift is especially important to houseware and hardware brands because they produce lines of interconnected products, from kitchen appliances to vacuums and smart desks to blinds, flooring and cabinetry. This makes attributes around reliability, quality or reasonable pricing particularly important, because consumers associate these attributes to multiple products from a single company, making it essential that audiences have positive feelings about the brand itself.

The tricky part of measuring brand lift is that it’s basically a reflection of an audience’s feelings, perceptions and intent. These sentiments are tough to measure, whether they are opinions regarding the quality of a product or how likely a customer is to recommend a product to a friend. However, a marketer can measure the delivery of the advertising message across all channels and in the manner it chooses to launch and support a product. This is why TV still serves as the cornerstone for advertising campaigns. TV allows marketers to zoom out beyond “product X” by including messaging and content that speaks to the brand and the rest of the related products in the catalogue with the strongest, broadest audience delivery and single biggest impact across all nonlinear channels. This strategy can boost sales across all channels, extending reach across these channels, including products that are not featured in creative and media campaigns. The need for TV advertising being the sole factor in consumer reach is no longer exclusive. TV impacts all video, and as a result, allows consumers to engage across all channels and devices. TV creates an amplified “wall” of video and sound around the brand and down to the product.

A media model that measures the weight of TV with integrated extensions of reach, the right audience delivery and the right product messaging is the key to success in today’s retail economy. Marketers must test the right markets against control markets to assess the support of a specific product’s sale for select retailers. Those direct learnings should then be applied to extrapolate and forecast retail sales lift nationwide, along with the halo e-commerce sales lift. To effectively measure the impact of integrated reach, a marketer must also incorporate historical and seasonal retail sales data, by product or by retailer, so that sales baselines are established and measured pre- and post-media execution. Optimization should then be delivered and executed weekly to impact POS sales by constantly changing and improving the media strategy. With the right marketing partner, return on investment will be guaranteed for your media campaign.

Consider a houseware product line launched at major retailers, like Walmart, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot, as well as e-commerce giant, Amazon. For the measurement of the campaign in retail sales, let’s assume it had an equivalent 8:1 media efficiency ratio (MER), and the products in the campaign had more than 1,100 units per Target Ratings Point (TRP). Also, the brand sales lift for the products not featured in the creative went up by an extra 500+ units per TRP. For context, the TRP is defined as 1 percent of the targeted audience (not the total audience) that is reached by an advertisement, and it is a metric that helps us to understand the true impact of TV advertising. In this example, there’s a boost in non-advertised products that is typical of well-executed TV campaigns. Instead of utilizing a high-frequency strategy on smaller, targeted stations to execute longer creative length, the TV campaign was focused on high-value reach, high-profile national cable and broadcast stations driving strong TRPs and audience delivery. With this TV weight, digital messaging through retargeting video and rich video banner ads helped amplify the “wall” of video and product messaging driven by a strong TV execution.

Marketers shoring up their advertising strategies and planning for the year ahead should keep in mind that TV advertising is a strong and reliable driver of brand lift. Armed with the right strategic media, quality reach and frequency, brands can ensure that, just as a rising tide lifts all boats, so does featuring one product to benefit the other products in the line. It’s a rare one-two punch.